Monday, January 2, 2006

When the Tory Can't Win: Strategic Voting for Conservatives

So what do you do as a good Tory when your local Conservative candidate stands no realistic probability of getting elected? You can vote for him/her anyway, or you may choose to play a strategic role in denying the riding to the Liberals by voting for someone else. It is this latter decision that can plague a Tory voter living in a swing riding that just won’t be going to the Conservatives this time out.

Case in point: Beaches-East York; Liberal incumbent Maria Minna is in a tight race with the NDP’s Marilyn Churley, a popular local MPP who just resigned her provincial seat to run federally. Jim Harris, Green Party leader, rounds out the field. Now you can certainly vote for Peter Conroy, the local Conservative candidate, but most reasonable people agree that come January 24 either Minna or Churley will be the MP. Deciding to exercise the only real power you have – to deny the seat to Minna – is a very real option being considered by a lot of conservatives.

Conservatives I know are making these kind of strategic decisions in many ridings, and by and large they are deciding to do whatever they can to deny the Liberals another seat. In Beaches-East York, this means voting for Churley. In Trinity-Spadina, they’re voting for New Democrat Olivia Chow. In Churchill, Manitoba three-term incumbent Bev Desjarlais is getting the nod as an independent candidate, after getting dumped by the NDP for her opposition to same-sex marriage. Desjarlais is in a tough battle against Liberal star-candidate Tina Keeper of North of 60 fame. There are many other ridings where Conservatives are similarly tested (Fry-Robinson, anyone?), and the decision to hold one’s nose is never easy.

Doubtless there are many who feel being a Conservative means backing your local candidate no matter what. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, it cannot be denied that others prefer to make any difference they can. Sometimes, this means electing the only person capable of keeping the riding from the Liberals. In 2006, fewer seats for the corrupt Liberal Party of Canada translates into a Conservative government.

Even if it means helping elect political foes like Churley, Chow and others.

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